Blog a Day: Day Twenty-One: Text Prize

Claire and Pearl blog a day blue and floral header -text reads: Claire and Pearl, blog a day, day twenty-one

So, some shit has gone down. Good shit. The best actual shit, ever. The story that has consumed my brain for the better part of three years, the one that I thought was a play, that was actually a novel. My first novel. A novel that I committed to every single day for six months. I’m a firm believer that we only have a particular amount of energy every day and that we must choose very wisely about how we distribute that energy across the twenty-four hours we’re gifted each day. I put my energy, my time and the majority of my waking thoughts into this story, for the very reason that I believed it should be told. That the muse and I high-fived each other and we got down to the business of making something that didn’t exist before now exist. We made something. That thought makes my brain explode. I wrote a novel, for no other reason than I wanted to. What a bloody glorious luxury.

Well, that novel has won the 2016 Text Publishing Text Prize.  The novel  is called Beautiful Mess and it’s a dual-narrative story about a sixteen year old girl, Ava, and a seventeen year old boy. Gideon. It begins six months after Ava’s best friend has committed suicide. Ava and Gideon go to the same school, they don’t know each other until they both start working at Magic Kebab. It’s the story of their friendship. It’s a tale of love, grief and working out that you are okay. I wrote about finishing the novel here. You can read my speech from announcement event  here and I talked about with my dear David on our podcast Pew!Pew! here.

I’ve been flawed by the glorious kindness and love that has swept my way since the shortlist announcement two weeks ago. I really, truly do feel so grateful. My heart is full.

A photo of Claire in front of the Text Publishing banner. She is wearing a black dress and a long gold necklace. She's holding a bottle of cider in her hand, and has a giant smile on her face.
Me looking all happy at the Text Prize party announcement.

I have always written. Always. But never for a second did it cross my mind as a young person that I could be a real life, actual writer who would publish anything that anyone would want to read. It wasn’t because my parents discouraged me, quite the opposite, I think it’s because I had no examples of creative and artistic lives in my sphere when I was young. No examples of what was possible; that I could totally fashion a creative life for myself from all my interests and passions. Plus, putting my writing into the world was incredibly scary. Self doubt is a bitch, that inner critic is an asshole, and the impostor police were definitely on my back leading me to believe that I had no right, qualification or experience to actually do it. I think it’s happened at the precisely right time. Exactly as it should, because I’ve realised that all of that stuff is bull shit, bull shit created from fear.

I had a big fat rejection filled year last year. It sucked. But now I kind of think that the rejection occurred so that I had nothing but time to get stuck in and write the novel. I’ve learnt that I can actually do anything that I put my mind to. If I just get stuck in and get over myself and get out of my own way. I think we get so boxed in by what we think is possible, that we forget that anything, absolutely anything is actually possible. I think that can be a limiting thing for a lot of people; the freedom of choice for us as first-world’ers is strangely crippling. Liz Gilbert talks gloriously about cutting ourselves some slack and just going with what we’re curious about. To take the pressure of finite decisions and just see where there’s energy, seeing where there’s that willingness for you to invest your time, and then just seeing what happens. I, for one, can vouch for this. I was curious about the fact that we don’t talk about mental health issues with young people. I was curious about creating an adolescent relationship that felt real, not perfect, or manufactured. I was curious about one of my characters being a slam poet. I was curious about writing a novel. Just to see if I could. And lo and bloody behold, what was previously unthinkable has happened, I have a publishing contract and a person whose job it is to edit my book. I have an editor.

What else is there that I could be achieving that is completely inconceivable right now?

I like the idea of being fearless, but it’s unrealistic, fear is natural, we’re meant to feel scared. Our brain is wired that way. Our amygdala is there for a very specific reason. But I think, what we actually need to do is keep putting ourselves in positions where we need to find a little bit of courage. When I talk about this in a theatrical context with my kids I call it taking risks. I tell them that risks are the things that spark that feeling in our stomach where we feel a little out of control, where that voice in our head starts to ramble about what could go wrong, that starts worrying about what people say. Taking a risk means doing that thing that sparks that reaction. Because that’s how we grow, that’s how we learn what our boundaries are, that’s how we get better, that’s how we learn whats actually possible for us.

Who’d of thought that I just needed to take my own advice.

Much love, pearly ones.

Claire's Sign Off: Best, Claire

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